Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Festivals, Seattle Screens

Seattle Screens: William Friedkin Comes to SIFF

William Friedkin

The final weekend of SIFF was sent off with a tribute to Sissy Spacek on Thursday, June 7, consisting of an onstage Q&A and a screening of Badlands.

Coming up on the final three days is the festival’s second tribute, to director William Friedkin on Saturday. An audience Q&A is followed by a screening of his new film Killer Joe. Emerging Master Andrea Arnold is not coming but SIFF has screenings of her new Wuthering Heights and her debut feature, Red Road. And there a few dozen more films to pick from as well. Visit the website for more screenings. Parallax continues to feature links to notable SIFF coverage from around the web here.

This weekend also launches N-E-X D-O-C-S, a festival of new works from American documentary filmmakers at Northwest Film Forum. Features the Seattle premieres of seven nonfiction features over seven days, including James Benning’s Small Roads (it opens the series on Friday, June 08) and two by Jon Jost (The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima on June 12 and Dissonance on June 14) with the filmmaker in attendance. Complete schedule here.

Prometheus, a mix of genuinely ambitious science fiction ideas and Hollywood spectacle, is sure to be the buzz film of the multiplexes and show palaces this weekend. How can Ridley Scott have such a sophisticated visual intelligence, creating screen worlds engineered in such detail as to suggest entire cultures behind the designs and technology, and then fill those worlds with so-called intellectuals who act like kids in a playroom? Seriously, the reason these supposedly top scientists of the late 21st century keep yelling “Don’t touch anything” to each other is because otherwise they’ll fingerpaint their way through the most important discoveries since the mapping of the human genome. The script fails to match its ambition, but at least give it credit for big ideas and unexpected conceptual turns and for a dense and dramatic visual experience. And for all its failures in the realm of human behavior, the cosmic mystery behind the story is enigmatic and remains so to the end. And in leaving us with mysteries, it offers something far more satisfying than a reductive answer. It leaves us with possibilities. Scott’s quasi-prequel to Alien is his first 3D production and it opens in Seattle at Cinerama and the Pacific Science Center’s IMAX theater in 3D as well as multiplex screens in both 2D and 3D presentations.

The Day He Arrives

The Day He Arrives from South Korea satirist Hong Sang-soo opens for a week at NWFF. I always forget how funny Hong’s films are until I’m in the middle of their deadpan variations on a by-now-standard-theme of immature, self-involved men and accommodating women who fool themselves into buying into their crap, at least as long as the drinks are being poured. This one, shot digitally in B&W (which gives it a kind of Woody Allen quality), is like Hong abstracted down to his essence and put on endless loop, like Groundhog Dayas a South Korean mumblecore production. A former filmmaker now teaching in the countryside returns to Seoul for a visit and ends up in a cycle, going in circles with the same friend, restaurant, bar, absent owner, even former student who crosses his path like a stalker in the streets. The only difference: don’t expect any emotion growth from this guy. Kampai!

If you haven’t yet noticed, the Sundance Cinema, located in the former Metro multiplex in the U-District, snuck in what they call a “soft opening” last week. A big Grand Opening will follow later this summer, but it’s currently open for business with a mix of titles not all that different from what the Metro showed up until it closed.

Openings

Colin Trevorrow’s made-in-Seattle Safety Not Guaranteed, which played SIFF in May, opens in theaters this weekend. Moira Macdonald interviews the director for The Seattle Times and Kathleen Murphy reviews the film for MSN Movies: “Only audiences hooked on quirky romantic comedy unruffled by grown-up passion or personality will sink happily into the warm bathwater that is Safety.”

Safety Not Guaranteed

Moonrise Kingdom opens in Seattle theaters days after its SIFF screening. Paul Constant at The Stranger, who appears to have enjoyed it as much as I did, describes it both as ” twee and precious” and “Saving Private Ryan for people who can’t stand war movies.”

Oslo, August 31st, also fresh from SIFF, follows a day in the life of a recovering addict. Brian Miller at Seattle Weekly: “Danielsen Lie previously appeared in director Joachim Trier’s Reprise, and this film is no less intelligent and compact.”

Also opening this week: Bel Ami, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, and Peace, Love and Misunderstanding.

Repertory

Pretty Poison, the underrated 1968 spy spoof turned social satire with Anthony Perkins as a mentally unstable Walter Mitty and Tuesday Weld as his high school sweetie, plays at Grand Illusion in a brand new 35mm print. I review it for Seattle Weekly’s The Weekly Wire: “There’s a feral edge to Weld’s teenage femme fatale, while Perkins grounds the dark satire with a quiet heartbreak and disillusionment. (The real world is far more cruel than his made-up Cold War conspiracies.)”

Red River plays at Seattle Art Museum as the first in a series of Montgomery Clift films for Gay Pride Month celebration. The film, an epic cattle drive drama that was nicknamed “Mutiny on the Prairie” upon release, was Montgomery’s big screen debut (though it arrived in theaters after his second film, The Search, was released) and he held his own with John Wayne, an actor who knew how to inhabit a movie. I write about the film for Seattle Weekly: “Iconic elder statesman Wayne wears his character like buckskin, dominating the screen. Yet upstart Method actor Clift matches him with burning intensity.” Read Kathleen Murphy’s 1972 essay on the film at Straight Shooting. Screens Friday, June 8 at 7:30pm in SAM’s Plestcheeff Auditorium. See SAM for more.

For All Mankind, the 1989 documentary of the Apollo Missions through footage of the space shots recorded by NASA during the missions, plays free at SIFF Film Center on Wednesday June 13 as part of the “Next 50 Film Series” as part of the World’s Fair anniversary. Details at SIFF Cinema.

For more alternative screenings, read Moira Macdonald’s At A Theater Near You roundup at The Seattle Times.

Schedules and Showtimes

You can check your favorite independent cinemas, neighborhood theaters and multiplexes here.

Pretty Poison

Independent theaters:
SIFF Cinema
Northwest Film Forum
Grand Illusion
Seattle Art Museum
Central Cinema
The Big Picture
Majestic Bay Theatres
Cinerama

Multiplexes and Chains
Cinebarre
Landmark Theatres (Egyptian, Guild 45, Harvard Exit, Varsity and others)
Regal Cinemas (Meridian 16, Thornton Place and others)
AMC Cinemas (Pacific Place, Oak Tree, Alderwood and others)
Kirland Park Place
Lincoln Square Cinemas
Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas